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Couples need to share information about an estate plan

At the beginning of marriage, most couples do not want to think about the possibilities of anything other than continued wedded bliss. However, all couples must face the reality that the unexpected is possible. Part of this reality is to discuss and share feelings and facts about creating an estate plan. When it comes to estate planning, Michigan couples need to not only understand each other's wishes but also which steps to take together to ensure those wishes are fulfilled.

First and foremost, having the right documents and plans in place is important. This includes disclosing life insurance information and deciding how much is enough. Even if one spouse is a stay-at-home parent, life insurance is needed. A will must then be drafted, and sadly, many adults, even those with minor children, have not taken this step. This could leave others, including a spouse, to guess what should be done with assets or even which funeral arrangements may be wanted.

Reasons a Michigan family may pose a will challenge

Even when there is a legal will in place and a family member has taken adequate estate planning steps, the family left behind may not fully agree with that will or have specific reasons to dispute the estate plan. When a Michigan family believes there is reason to dispute the distribution of assets, that family may pursue a will challenge. While each family is unique, there are a few common reasons families may choose to contest a will, and a few specific areas of a will may be subject to a will challenge.

The exact wording of a will may be the source of a will challenge and lead to family disputes. If a will was drafted and not amended or revisited after major life changes, such as the birth or adoption of more children, those who were excluded may challenge the will. If family members who disagree with the will believe someone had undue influence over the person leaving behind assets, those family members may also have cause to pursue a will challenge.

An effective estate plan is necessary if you are married or not

Creating an estate plan is not just for married couples who want to ensure their spouse and/or children are cared for after their passing. Single people of all ages also need to consider having a comprehensive estate plan in place and periodically updated. Michigan singles are as concerned with their assets as anyone else. They will also benefit by considering who may have decision making rights regarding health and finances in the event of incapacitation.

A number of things may happen if an unmarried person passes away without provisions for his or her estate, all of which may not be what the person wanted. Without a will, the state will have the authority to distribute assets according to a statutory scheme, without direct input from family or those who were closest to the deceased. This could very well be in direct conflict to what the wishes of the deceased person may have been had he or she addressed these issues while alive.

Real estate litigation can involve common and uncommon issues

The success of any kind of real estate deal can hinge on minimizing conflict and successfully navigating any litigation scenarios that may occur. Legal support is needed to ensure all parties are protected and also to deal with issues as they arise. Those issues may be considered common, or they may entail unique situations that require deeper insight and more time to prepare for real estate litigation in a Michigan court.

One common issue that requires the assistance of a real estate attorney is a title dispute. If there are opposing claims to a piece of property, litigation may be needed to resolve the issue. Local zoning issues can also be a common sticking point to any real estate deal. The case may have to be litigated before you can overcome a zoning disagreement and move forward with plans for a specific property.

Lamar Odom health scare highlights estate plan mishaps

Regardless of one's age or health, unexpected circumstances can leave a young person incapacitated and unable to make important health or financial decisions for him or herself. This is why it is essential that people of all ages have estate plans in place, and that they update those plans as life circumstances warrant. One lesson about the importance of keeping an estate plan current has been brought to light for Michigan residents due to the news-making health crisis of former NBA and reality TV star Lamar Odom.

The basketball player and estranged husband of Khloe Kardashian was found unconscious and rushed to a hospital where he spent days in a coma. It was then revealed that his soon-to-be ex-wife was still the person with legal authority to make important and possibly life-altering medical decisions for him, even though the couple signed divorce papers months ago. A backlog in the family court system that has jurisdiction over their divorce is said to be to blame for the delay. If their divorce had been finalized, chances are good that the decision-making responsibilities would have fallen into the hands of another relative or friend.

Creating a trust may be the best step for your Michigan family

There are many ways to manage and leave behind assets for loved ones. While doing so by a last will and testament is an option for many, it may not necessarily be the best option for the unique circumstances of your family. The creation of a trust can be a useful tool for Michigan families wishing to maximize assets, avoid probate, minimize tax liabilities and ensure family members are cared for according to your wishes.

The exact type of trust will depend heavily on the goals to be achieved. There are benefits to both a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. Outlining clear goals and communicating those goals with estate planning professionals and family members is the best way to ensure a beneficial path is chosen before a trust is even needed.

Landlord/tenant dispute at center of recent Michigan eviction

Most landlord/tenant issues can be avoided when leases and contracts are well-prepared and both sides are clear about responsibilities and expectations. However, even when there are leases in place, landlord/tenant disputes or a landlord's disregard for outlined responsibilities can occur and require legal intervention. Apartment tenants in Michigan are currently dealing with a landlord who allegedly did not live up to his responsibilities, and they claim they are being evicted as a result.

The apartment complex residents say they have been served with eviction notices. The township has declared the building to be unsafe. The residents of the 12-apartment complex say this is the result of the landlord not fixing the apartment complex as he should.

When kids are grown, an estate plan may require changes

When creating estate plans, families often make provisions for minor children, including the financial care and guardianship of those minors. However, minors grow up and often head to college. When a Michigan family sends a now-grown child to college, it may be the perfect time to sit down and rethink an existing estate plan.

An existing plan may give a child a specific amount of money and number of assets. If that child is now 18 and in college, handing him or her a substantial amount of money in the event of parental death may not be what is best for that adult child. One way to ensure funds are distributed and used in a manner of which the parent approves is to create a trust. This can give the parent the freedom to distribute a percentage of the funds at specific intervals rather than in one lump sum, which could open the door to misuse or manipulation by others.

Residential real estate transactions require legal support

The buying, selling and renting of residential real estate property is a legal transaction, one that may be the most valuable transaction you make. Just like any other legal transaction, a residential real estate transaction can become complex and require legal intervention in the way of negotiations or litigation. Michigan homeowners and renters may benefit from a deeper understanding of what complications may arise or which situations may require legal intervention.

Vacation properties can be valuable, just as valuable as a primary residence. Owning one and renting it out can be a great investment, but it can also be a great hassle. For others, the sale of a valuable vacation property can also be a source of investment income. Any complications when selling, buying or renting that vacation home can affect the value and outcome of the transaction.

It takes more than a will to complete an estate plan

Just as everyone's estate is unique and valuable to them and their family, the process of creating an estate plan also needs to be unique and address the individual needs of those who are affected by that estate. However, many people think the process simply entails creating a will to explicitly say who gets what. Michigan residents should understand there can be much more needed aside from a complete and legal will.

First of all, a will only plays a role upon death. If someone is incapacitated, issues still need to be addressed and decisions need to be made. This can entail keeping up with bills or other financial obligations. A power of attorney can outline who will make those vital decisions, especially if the person affected is single and does not want the courts to decide who gets to make these extremely important decisions.

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